Daily, in my neighborhood, on playgrounds, at kid events, and in grocery stores I come up against fellow moms, and their kids, and every now and again, we clash big time. Most of the time we can just go our separate ways when it’s obvious that we don’t see eye-to-eye on how to deal with our kids, but when the kids are playing and interacting we are sometimes forced to either grit our teeth and bite our tongues, speak up and lash out, just drag our kid away from their new friend, or sometimes all three.
I think we all take our parenting choices so personally. Mostly because we think about them, question them, try them out, or have some prior experience running through our heads all of the time. We all “know best”, and have our own very good reasons for what we do. We all want what we feel/think/know is best for our kids, and will fight anyone who gets in the way of that. There have been many instances when I’ve thought that another mom was nuts, unreasonable, or just plain wrong. It’s a little trickier if it’s someone you see regularly, however, and I was in that situation yesterday. I think both of us think the other’s parenting skills are questionable, and it came to the point where I had to just scoop up my child and go. The saddest part of it is, the kids adore each other and always want to play together. We moms just can’t see eye to eye on even the basics of children, let alone the hot button issues. When it gets to the point that the other mom starts to say or imply things about my kid that aren’t nice or true, it’s over. She can think I’m as crazy or weird or wrong as she wants, but I don’t let people comment meanly on my daughter’s very normal 3-year-old playful behavior!
There are times when I wonder how other parents see me. I wonder about parents who don’t let their children run barefoot while my kid can go barefoot anywhere where there isn’t a law (most health department codes require at least socks in public buildings). If she hurts her foot, she might choose to use shoes next time. I always keep a pair in the car. And yes, she is allowed to stand at the edge of the pond and hunt for frogs. If she falls in, it isn’t deep, and she’ll just get dirty. And I’m always within eyesight of her, and definitely within yelling distance. Also, she is allowed, no encouraged, to swim underwater even if I’m sitting on the dock or shore. As long as someone is watching her. The water is ankle to thigh deep, and she’s learning to swim. She just needs to be supervised.
Oh you want to know what really, truly drives uptight moms crazy? I don’t punish my kid. Like, no time outs, no privileges revoked, no spanking, and I aim for no yelling. (The yelling generally happens when I’m at my worst, not when she’s at hers.) So, it’s true, if my preschooler pushes or hits or snatches, we talk about how it made the other kid feel. We find a solution where both parties can feel better. It’s addressed immediately, and I don’t allow her to continue to hurt anyone, but boy the sharp looks I can sometimes get when the other kid is hauled off to a time-out and my girl isn’t!
And yet, as much as I feel judged for my parenting choices, I do judge others just as harshly. Those kids who aren’t ever allowed to go near water, or jump in a puddle, or dig in the dirt… the kids constantly in time-out, or getting threatened with grounding… the moms who won’t even let their kids go without shoes while they’re swimming… gosh, they piss me off. And don’t even get me started on spanking… I honestly feel that it’s abusive behavior and should be considered assault, just as it would be between two adults.
So I recognize that I’m part of the judgmental mommy problem. I have trouble understanding where other moms are coming from, even though I used to feel differently about things like “time out”. It’s hard for me to extend empathy toward other moms even though I know what it’s like to be new at this, floundering, knowing something’s not right but not knowing what, sleepless and exhausted and stressed to the max. I guess in writing this I’m trying to coax myself into feeling a little more empathy for a mom I don’t agree with and don’t understand. I’m trying to feel where she’s at and not hold a grudge.
Anyone else feel like they’re too judgmental for their own liking?